2019 Uganda: Stella Nyanzi

PEN International and The Norwegian PEN Writers in Prison Committee call for the immediate release of Dr Stella Nyanzi, and for her sentence to be overturned.

Dr Nyanzi was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘cyber harassment’ under the Computer Misuse Act (2011), when in fact she published a poem on Facebook that criticised Uganda’s President. PEN believe Dr Nyanzi was exercising her right to freedom of expression and urge the authorities to quash her sentence and release her immediately and unconditionally.

We furthermore urge for the Computer Misuse Act to be repealed, or amended to ensure full conformity with freedom of expression in Uganda. The Act has been used to clamp down on dissent, as the case of Dr Stella Nyanzi clearly shows, and it is cause for concern, as it will make people more afraid to express themselves online.

The United Nations Human Right Committee, which oversees the implementation of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCCPR), has made it clear that the ‘mere fact that forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify the imposition of penalties’.

We therefore urge the authorities in Uganda to immediately and unconditionally release Dr Stella Nyanzi, overturn her sentence and repeal or amend the Computer Misuse Act.

On behalf of Norwegian PEN Writers in Prison Committee,
Mari Moen Holsve